Then & Now: Computing Tabulating Recording Company (aka IBM)

It might feel like things are always changing in Washington DC. There are always new buildings being built, businesses closing and with every few years. But you might not realize how much Washington DC has changed until you look back at what it looked like in the past. In this “Then & Now” feature, I have combined one of Lewis Reed’s original photograph’s for “then” and matched it with a google street view image for “now”. Taken approximately 108 years apart, these photos show Hollerith’s Plant then and now.

THEN: Before becoming interested in automobiles, Lewis Reed was one of the original employees of the Computing Tabulating Recording Company, a Georgetown-based manufacturing firm that eventually became International Business Machines, Inc. The Tabulating Machine Company was formed by Hermann Hollerith in 1896 and merged to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911. Seen in the photo below, the two-story building housed Hollerith’s card manufacturing plant, assembly plant, repair shop and development laboratory. Hollerith later incorporated his business as the Tabulating Machine Company. It was consolidated into the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. in 1911, and was renamed International Business Machines (IBM) in 1924.

Tabulating Machine Co. 1911

Hollerith’s Plant 1911. Photo by Lewis Reed

NOW: Today the U.S. technology sector is inextricably linked with the West Coast, but the history of data processing actually traces back to an unassuming brick factory in Washington, D.C. This was the Georgetown headquarters of the Tabulating Machine Company, an early analog computer manufacturer that you may know by the contemporary moniker IBM. IBM placed a historical plaque on the corner of the building by 31st Street and the Canal. Hollerith is also buried nearby in the Oak Hill Cemetery.

Tabulating Machine Company

Front of the old Tabulating Machine Company on 31st Street today

Tabulating Machine Company Delivery Truck

Tabulating Machine Company Delivery Truck. Note that the writing on the side of the truck is in reverse… I have no idea why. Photo by Lewis Reed

The following photographs are interior images.

Tabulating Machine Co. 1911

Photo by Lewis Reed

Tabulating Machine Co. 1911

Photo by Lewis Reed

Tabulating Machine Co. 1911

Photo by Lewis Reed

Tabulating Machine Co. 1911

Photo by Lewis Reed

Tabulating Machine Co. 1911

Photo by Lewis Reed

Tabulating Machine Co. 1911

Photo by Lewis Reed

Tabulating Machine Co. 1911

Photo by Lewis Reed

Tabulating Machine Co. 1911

Photo by Lewis Reed

Source: IBM Archives

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: